COLUMN: ‘Mediagate,’ the scandal you won’t hear about on cable news

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In the last two weeks, it has become obvious that a political scandal is unfolding which exceeds in scope anything seen previously in our country’s 240-year history.

What could that be? Is it the fact that leaked emails proved that the Democratic Party rigged the election cycle to ensure that Hillary Clinton would be nominated for president instead of her grassroots opponent, Bernie Sanders? Or the fact that it became firmly established that the Obama administration had essentially agreed to pay ransom to Iran for the release of our hostages? How about the fact that President Obama — acting more like Hugo Chavez than George Washington — announced from the White House that one of the two people who have a chance to be the next president of the United States is “unfit to serve” in that office?

All of those were bad enough, but they don’t come close to the importance of the political scandal that you will never hear reported on cable news or in the pages of the New York Times. I’m talking about “Mediagate” — the attempted coup d’etat by the talking heads at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, who aimed salvo after salvo of Trumped-up stories at the GOP nominee as soon as he appeared to be closing in on Hillary Clinton following the Republican National Convention.

What a disastrous week for Donald Trump, but more importantly what a disastrous week for the nation — which has proven to be in thrall to the steady, hypnotic drumbeat of lies and distortions from the national media. “Trump hates babies.” “Trump’s wife violated immigration rules.” “Trump says Ivanka won’t let herself be sexually harassed.” (What’s wrong with that?) Look past the talking heads on each of these supposed stories, and there is nothing there but another attempt to discredit Trump by people who don’t like Trump.

 The biggest example of that was the non-story about Trump supposedly attacking the Khans, the Gold Star family who denounced him at the Democratic convention. If you actually look at what Trump said in response, the worst he ever did was ask why Mrs. Khan did not speak even though she appeared on the stage alongside her husband. Mr. Khan on the other hand questioned Trump’s patriotism, his knowledge of the Constitution and essentially called him a bigot. In the real world, Trump showed admirable restraint in the face of this attack, especially when it was eventually discovered that Mr. Khan is an advocate of the primacy of Islamic sharia law over all other law, including the Constitution.

But the Khan-troversy was just one of many hyped-up stories rolled out over two weeks by the national media so they could ask the one over-riding important question over and over: “When will Donald Trump withdraw as the GOP nominee?” To anyone who was watching with an open mind, it was obvious that the media was creating the story, not reporting it.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The countdown of lies, innuendoes and slander against Trump all started immediately after the July 27 press conference held by Trump at his resort in Doral, Florida. This was the point where polls were showing Trump leading or tied in several key swing states and ahead in several national polls. Panic was setting in among Democrats and their allies in the media.

It was also a few days after Wikileaks had published those thousands of emails and voicemails that had been hacked from the Democratic National Committee. This was no coincidence, but rather was the beginning of a concerted effort by the media to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton as the historic first woman presidential nominee in U.S. history.

The emails made it plain that Bernie Sanders had been dead right when he claimed that the DNC had rigged the election to ensure a positive outcome for Clinton. In the leaked emails, Democrat officials had questioned Sanders’ faith as a Jew; they tag-teamed with journalists to sabotage him; and they kowtowed to the Clinton campaign, all the while pretending to be neutral players. This was a disaster for the Democratic Party — a huge story that made it clear that Clinton was not just an establishment hack, but a dishonest one at that. Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in “disgrace” (and then was hired the same week by Clinton as a campaign adviser!) but the story just wouldn’t go away.

People were actually starting to ask questions about Clinton’s dubious moral character and her role in the scandal, but since Clinton didn’t have any answers, she did what she does best and deflected the story. Instead of explaining why she had lied for months about collaborating with the DNC to steal the election, she and her surrogates led the lapdog media to instead question whether or not the supposed Russian hackers had leaked the damaging evidence against Hillary in order to boost Trump’s chances in the election.

This was a ridiculous allegation, which didn’t do justice to a former member of the “most transparent administration in history,” but that aside, it served its purpose. The bloodhounds of the cable news factory were off the scent of the real story and barking up the wrong tree in no time. It was all about how the evil leader of the bad Russians, Vladimir Putin, loves Donald Trump, the evil leader of the bad Republicans.

So come that Wednesday, Trump held a press conference to respond to the Clinton email scandal (I mean the NEW email scandal, not the private insecure Clinton email server scandal which FBI director James Comey called an example of gross negligence by the former secretary of state!) and the allegations that he and Putin were secret lovers.

Trump answered questions for more than an hour, lots of questions, including several about the DNC email breach. Trump gave one funny response, in particular, where he did a jazzy riff on the idea that the Russians, who supposedly had hacked into the DNC server, might have also hacked into the soft target of Hillary’s private server when she was secretary of state and therefore might have copies of the thousands of “private” emails which she and her lawyers had deleted from the public record shortly before telling the public that the server existed in the first place back in March 2015. In a poke at Clinton, Trump joked that if the Russians had the deleted emails, they would be doing the media and the nation a service if they turned them over.

Innocent enough, right?

Not hardly. As soon as the press conference was over, I heard a news anchor on one of the cable channels announce that the major news coming out of the session was that Trump had recklessly invited the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails as secretary of state and thus put national security at risk!

Say what!

First of all, it was a joke, people! Secondly, there is nothing to hack! The server doesn’t exist anymore. Do the folks at MSNBC really think that after the FBI got through looking the email server over, that they plugged it back into the internet? Third, the emails that were deleted by Clinton’s lawyers were supposedly all private and personal and had nothing to do with national security in the first place!

But most importantly, Trump never said anything remotely like what the cable channels and internet news outlets started chanting in unison — “Reckless Trump asks evil Russians to hack Honest Hillary Clinton’s emails!”

So let’s look at the actual “incriminating” statement by Trump:

“[I]f it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.”

So, first of all, Trump says he doesn’t think the Russians have the emails. (Recent speculation by a former National Security Agency official named William Binney is that it was the U.S.’s own security apparatus that hacked and released the DNC treasure trove, but who knows?) Trump then says that if it is the Russians who did it, we have a serious problem because they have shown disrespect for us. And finally, he pivots from the DNC hack to the deleted Clinton emails, and makes the JOKE that he hopes Russia is “able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Notice, he does not say HACK, but rather FIND, as in, “If you already hacked that INSECURE server in Hillary Clinton’s basement, it would be kind of cool if you could share the thousands of emails that Hillary Clinton didn’t think the public should see.”

It was actually quite funny, but unfortunately Trump always forgets that what he calls the “dishonest media” are going to take his words and twist them seven ways from Sunday in order to paint him as “unfit to serve” and to ensure the election of their preferred candidate — Hillary Clinton.

Hopefully, the average American will not forget. Let the voter beware.

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